Hun Sen, Hun Many... dynasty in the making

POPULAR: Mr Hun Many is the first of Premier Hun Sen's five children to seek political office.


    Jul 26, 2013

    Hun Sen, Hun Many... dynasty in the making

    CAMBODIA'S long-ruling party faces a rare leadership dilemma - how do you replace a strongman premier who has run the country almost single-handedly for decades? Well, maybe with his son.

    Although he has vowed to stay in power for another decade or more, signs are growing that 60-year-old Prime Minister Hun Sen is grooming his children to inherit a political dynasty.

    Clean-cut, cheerful and wildly popular with ruling-party voters, United States-educated Hun Many is the premier's youngest son and the first of his five children to seek political office.

    The cherubic 30-year-old is already a top official in his father's Cabinet and head of the ruling party's youth wing.

    Now he is running for a seat in Parliament in the southern province of Kampong Speu in Sunday's general election.

    And if his public pronouncements on the campaign trail are anything to go by, he is a chip off the old block.

    From warning of civil war if the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) loses, to vague campaign promises "to serve the people by studying what CPP leaders have done so far", he is sticking to his father's script - and it seems to be working.

    "Mr Hun Sen led the country to this state of development even though he had little education. So his children, educated in the best universities in the world, will achieve even more," supporter Hay Vanna said.

    "They will follow their father's path and lead the country to prosperity," the 59-year-old housewife said at a recent 15,000-strong rally led by Mr Hun Many in Phnom Penh.

    From politics to the media, army and police, Mr Hun Sen has positioned his children strategically to ensure the family's grip on power outlasts its patriarch's career, experts said.

    His two other sons - both generals now - recently received military promotions.

    "It is increasingly clear that Mr Hun Sen is creating a dynasty," said Mr Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.